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Vaccine Licensing, Production, and Global Distribution

Although much of the current COVID-19 vaccine debate is focused on the question of waivers for intellectual-property rights, the transfer of knowledge and technology is only the first part. Equally important are global manufacturing capacity and pricing, either of which could still pose a problem.

MILAN – At this point in the pandemic, the key question is whether vaccine production can be ramped up quickly enough to allow most people to be vaccinated relatively soon. But implicit in that question is another: whether and under what circumstances it is appropriate to suspend domestic and internationally agreed intellectual-property rights. The matter is being discussed in the World Trade Organization now that US President Joe Biden’s administration has surprisingly come out in support of a COVID-19 waiver, exposing a rift between Western governments.